Perhaps the most common thing you will hear when you first start sparring is, “Keep your guard up!” This is because as your guard goes down, your risk of injury increases dramatically.
Injury is a risk anytime you spar. Even Kumite runs the risk of incurring an injury. If you spar, you may be injured. Kumite is thought to avoid head contact, but accidents happen and serious head contact cannot always be avoided.
Since there is a risk of injury it is important to understand how to know what type of injury you may have sustained. The only way you can know this with certainty is to visit a medical professional. We do not offer any specific medical advice, but we can provide you with some general guidelines about how to deal with injuries.
First, consider any significant blow to the head to be potentially life-threatening. You may be able to shake it off initially, but if you later develop blurred vision, headaches, nausea, disorientation, numbness, temporary unconsciousness or any other unusual brain functions you must seek immediate medical consultation. Don’t wait until the morning. Go now. This could be a serious brain injury that affords you only hours to live. If you’ve been struck in the head and have any unusual cognitive or perception issues go to the hospital immediately.
The same advice applies to any broken bones or potential internal injuries. Severe abdominal pain may suggest internal organ damage or internal bleeding. All require immediate medical attention.
You will likely suffer many bruises and perhaps some scrapes and scratches over time. These are usually not dangerous, but warrant watching in the event they become more widespread or seem to harden. Seek medical attention in either case.
Sprains and strains are common injuries in sparring. These can occur from impacting your training partner or by simply stepping wrong. These injuries occur because things are often chaotic during training and unexpected contact or joint flexures can occur as a result.
The best thing to do with minor sprains and strains to let them heal before you engage in further training activities that might exacerbate the injury. Severe pain or joint malfunctions require medical attention.
If an injury does not show signs of improvement after a day or two then you would be wise to have a medical professional look at it. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Most injuries will be minor, but if something doesn’t seem right, or doesn’t seem to get better fairly quickly, visit a medical facility to have it checked out.
Never delay medical attention if you feel in severe pain, if the pain increases over time, if you experience an inability to move a joint, or if you have any abnormal cognitive, perceptive, balance, or other issues that might suggest your brain has suffered an injury.
You will also want to seek immediate medical assistance if you experience chest pains, difficulty breathing, profuse sweating, or any other unusual physiological symptoms. Sparring can be strenuous and if you overtax your system you may experience cardiovascular difficulties that require immediate medical attention.
The bottom line is that any unusual conditions that result after you have sparred require follow-up with a medical professional. Symptoms that are unusual or unexpectedly severe require immediate intervention. Do not delay in seeking medical assistance.